(June 21, 2020 – written by Dave)
Shortest day of the year today – woohoo – every day gets longer (and maybe warmer) from this point forward – winter is on the wane. Apologies to our friends in the Northern Hemisphere as your days get shorter and cooler from this point forward. Perhaps my “woohoo” was a little over exuberant – sorry!
It hasn’t rained today, as called for in the forecast, but once we agreed to not ride, the die was cast. We made the most of the dry conditions to walk just about every street in Nambucca Heads, out to the end of the sea wall and to the two lookouts above town. By the time we finished all of that it was 11:30 AM – Nambucca Heads is not a big town. Most of the shops are closed here as it’s Sunday and that’s what how it works in small town Australia on Sunday. We had thought that Nambucca Heads was bigger but with a population of less than 7,000 and a fairly wide foot print, it feels small.
We’ve spent the last two days at the Nambucca Heads Foreshore Caravan park. It was on this very spot in the aboriginal Dreaming that a Ngamba giant was speared in the leg. It is admittedly hard to keep track of all the Dreaming stories but for sure we’d never heard of a Ngamba before this trip. I still don’t know how to pronounce Ngamba or what one actually looks like. Speaking of the caravan park, below is a photo of our “van”. The name van comes from caravan and is a bit of an anachronism – It’s really a prefab cabin that never moves – we just call it a onsite van in Oz.
European settlers arrived here as part of a survey party in 1820 but not much changed on the ground until the late 1840s when the cedar cutters turned up. It took another 40 years for town to be formally mapped out and established. While a new town, it is home to one of the very first surf lifesaving clubs in Australia. Other than Ngamba, possibly the single biggest claim to fame is that the term “nipper” was coined here.
A nipper is the name given to a group of young, aged 5 to 14, children who participate in surf lifesaving skill development programs. The official nipper website states that Nippers is a junior development program designed to ensure children have fun at the beach while participating in lessons that will give them a pathway to becoming a fully rounded participant in both lifesaving and sport. If only I’d been a nipper when I was younger, I wouldn’t have had to learn how to swim when I was 53 years old. It’s never too late as they say…
So, tomorrow is the big day. We will reach Coffs Harbour and perhaps even make it to our ultimate goal, The Big Banana. We are super excited. Ok, ok, I’m excited. Nancy, she’s along for the ride and will naturally be a good sport in many Big Banana photos. I can hardly wait.